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Schools clamp down on second helpings

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clamp downMANY schools in Wales have clamped down on lunch second helpings for pupils in the fight against child obesity.

A BBC Wales survey has found a number of councils now leave the decision on extra servings to schools or caterers.

Powys bans pudding as seconds, Cardiff schools are urged to offer only extra bread, and Ceredigion extras are small, bringing complaints from hungry pupils.

But the Welsh government says it would never want children left hungry, and it will issue new guidance next year.School meal policy varies in many areas of Wales, and here are some examples.

Several areas, such as Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham have no set policy on seconds, and leave the decision up to schools.

Most counties say all primary pupils get the same size portions, but some, Anglesey, Denbighshire and Ceredigion vary servings.

But Powys says primary pupils all pay the same and cooks cannot give “significantly bigger portions” to older ones. But they do get slightly more potatoes and vegetables.

BBC Wales asked education authorities about school meals, and 17 of the 22 responded. But while all said children are still allowed to ask for seconds, they may get a different response depending on where they live.

Powys Council says its cooks must use their “discretion” when offering extra food, and while its schools are allowed to serve any leftover vegetables and bread, puddings as seconds are off the menu. Powys also says catering managers advise cooks and rely on their “discretion and understanding.”

But some pupils and parents have complained about these restrictions, which follow the adoption of the Welsh government’s Appetite for Life programme, which aims to raise nutritional standards and help tackle childhood obesity.

There have also been complaints about the size of portions for primary school pupils. They have protested that 10-11-year-olds will need more food than a four-year-old.

Figures from earlier this year show more than 28% of five-year-olds in Wales are overweight, with 12.5% of children classed as obese. Wales has a bigger problem than either England or Scotland.

The standards have been in force in primary schools since September 2012, and were introduced across secondary schools at the start of this term.

When the Appetite for Life plan was launched in 2008 then Education Minister Jane Hutt said a balanced diet was essential for the young to become healthy adults.

It stipulates, for instance, that at least two portions of fruit and vegetables must be available each day, and that chips cannot be served more than twice a week.

Oily fish must be served at least twice a month, but food cooked in fat or oil cannot be given to pupils more than twice a week.

Schools are told that bread should be on offer, but best eaten without spread, salt must not be available, and any sauces like tomato ketchup, salad cream and mayonnaise must only be in 10ml portions.

Cakes and biscuits can only be served as part of lunch, and cannot be served at other times in the school day.

Any meals made from mechanically recovered meat cannot be served and fresh drinking water should be freely available.

Primary pupils should receive 530 calories per two-course meal, while children in secondary schools get 646 calories.

Education Minister Huw Lewis has echoed those words and wants “a large dose of common sense” to be used in interpreting the guidelines.

He told AMs last month the guidelines are flexible and “offer a proper nutritional balance for our young people, and that is something that we have been working towards for a long time, and now we have it. So, the guidelines matter but so does common sense”.

In response to BBC Wales’ findings, a Welsh government spokesperson said:

“We would never want to see children having school meals going hungry.

“We have provided schools with suggested portion sizes which cater for changing nutritional requirements as children get older. So, for example, a child in year 6 would have a larger portion than a child in reception.”

“Local authorities and many schools have worked hard over the years to improve the quality of food and drink provided in schools, in line with the Appetite for Life recommended standards.

“However, in the absence of legislation, there has been a variable rollout across schools. As a consequence, not all schools were achieving the recommended standards. The Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations now require compliance by schools; giving children and young people a healthy balance of food and drink throughout the entire school day.

“Statutory guidance on the Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations is currently being prepared and will be issued in the new year.”

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Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures

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A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.

Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.

At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl

In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.

Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.

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Ben Lake MP gets First Class experience as he turns postie for the day in Lampeter

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Ceredigion MP Ben Lake experienced what is involved in delivering the post when he joined local postman Wyn on his delivery round in Lampeter yesterday.

Ben is one of a number of local MPs being invited to go out with postmen and women across Wales to see the lengths Royal Mail goes to, to deliver the post.

The purpose of the visits is to give MPs a unique insight into the challenges of delivering mail to every house and business in their constituency, six days a week.

Jamie Lambert, Royal Mail Delivery Manager, who briefed Ben before he set off on his walk said: “We’re delighted that Ben is taking the time to experience the every day challenges faced by our delivery postmen and women.

“The visit gave us the opportunity to show Ben how we are continuing to modernise and transform our organisation. We have invested in new sorting and delivery equipment as we respond to the changing nature of the modern postbag. We are delivering more parcels and fewer letters than ever before and the tools for the job need to reflect that.”

Ben Lake MP said: “Postmen and women perform an incredibly important service to our communities; not only do they ensure that our post is delivered, but they are often a vital contact for elderly individuals, and as such key to biding us closer together as a community.

“I wanted to get a real understanding of the work that goes into delivering the mail on a daily basis. There can be no better way of getting that insight than actually going out and joining a postman as he delivers his postal round.

“I would like to thank the team at the Lampeter Sorting Office for their work and welcome, and to Wyn for his patience as I followed him on his round.”

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Tenders invited for Cylch Caron

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Tenders are invited for the design and build of a new fully-integrated health, social care and housing centre, Cylch Caron in Tregaron.

The tendering opportunity has been advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union, and the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) published on 12 February 2018. Completed PQQ submissions must be made online through etenderwales by Noon on 15 March 2018.

Following a previous unsuccessful exercise the Cylch Caron Project Board voted to explore new tender options for the design and construction of the facility. Subsequently, this tender for a design and build solution has been developed to deliver best value for money and fit-for-purpose health and extra care facilities, for current and future generations.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Social Services, and Chair of the Cylch Caron Stakeholder Board, said: “After exploring ways in which to move this project forward successfully, this is an important milestone that I am very happy to see. The Project Board agreed to re-procure the scheme on a Design and Build basis which will hopefully be an attractive prospect to building companies.”

The scheme is being developed in partnership between Ceredigion County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid-Wales Housing and the Welsh Government. It will consist of a GP surgery, community pharmacy, outpatient clinics and community nursing services, as well as extra care flats and integrated health and social care units.

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